State firm wages grew 10 percent

Two of every three euros spent by public companies go toward salaries, which, in the last five years, have been growing by an annual 10 percent rate. Economy Ministry data shows a clear inability to control spending on salaries, which have been growing far above what collective contracts provide for. It is data such as this that has prompted the ministry to table its amendment in Parliament, intending to practically abolish the collective negotiations and the right to resort to unilateral arbitration. The data for the years 2006 and 2007 is quite striking. Ahead of the collective negotiations, the first to have been conducted under the new law on public companies, in April 2006 the competent ministerial committee set a ceiling of 5 percent on the increase rate of salaries for 2006 and 6 percent for 2007. It actually warned that if employees did not agree, it would impose those rates with a new law. It also warned public company administrations that if they do not follow the decision, they would risk dismissal without compensation. Although the rates agreed to then were indeed within the boundaries set, salary spending actually grew by 8.43 percent in 2006 and by 8.25 percent last year. Neither year was any penalty imposed. The cost of salaries soared from 67.13 percent of all operating expenses in 2005 to 77.93 percent in 2006 and slid to 74.64 percent in 2007, due to the rise in all operating expenses through investment in the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE). The Athens Urban Transport Organization in particular allocated 86.38 percent of its expenses to salaries in 2007: From a total of 518 million euros, 447 million euros went to salaries for public transport workers. The question now is: Could the recent amendment put an end to that phenomenon? The chances are slim if we take into consideration the way wages grow in public companies. Overtime Data shows that salaries in fact grow through overtime work, participation on various committees, extraordinary payments, supplements for taking positions with added responsibility and various other methods. In this way, total salaries can effectively double. For example, at OSE the average annual gross regular salary comes to 32,273.48 euros, or about 2,305 euros per month. Yet with overtime and other extraordinary payments, this climbs to 52,457.05 euros, or about 3,747 euros per month. The same picture is seen across most, if not all, public companies, which means that any nominal raise agreed upon or imposed by law or ministerial decision has little significance in the end, as salary expenses are practically made up of extraordinary payments.